News 02.15.08

Two Mississippi men are cleared after 15 years

At hearings this morning in a packed Mississippi courthouse, two Innocence Project clients convicted of separate child murders in the same small Mississippi town were cleared based on new evidence proving their innocence. This day comes after nearly 15 years behind bars for Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer, who were joined in court this morning by more than 100 of their relatives.

Brewer, who served much of his time on death row, was fully exonerated today after all pending charges against him were dropped. He is the first person exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing in Mississippi and the 213th nationwide.

Brooks was released this morning after his conviction was vacated, and he will be fully exonerated when charges against him are dismissed, which we expect in the next few weeks.


Read today’s press release for more on these landmark cases

.

Due to the gaps in forensic oversight revealed by these two cases, the Innocence Project has called for a top-to-bottom review of forensics in Mississippi. We have also called for an examination of the role of Steven Hayne, the widely discredited medical examiner who performed the autopsies in these two cases.

Read the Innocence Project’s letter seeking the appointment of a State Medical Examiner

.


Media coverage of Hayne’s role in the convictions of Brewer and Brooks:



Clarion-Ledger:

Innocence Project letter blasts Steven Hayne's work

Reason Magazine Blog:

President of Mississippi State Medical Association Denounces Dr. Hayne


Media Coverage of today’s releases:

Commerical Dispatch:

Brewer goes free on 1992 child murder, rape charges

Clarion-Ledger:

Brewer cleared of charges in child slaying

Jackson Free Press:

Free at last

Hattiesburg American:

DA’s having trouble keeping up with DNA


More Mississippi news:

Meanwhile, Mississippi legislators are considering a bill that would create a statewide task force on the handling of DNA evidence. A State Senate committee passed the bill earlier this week, citing Brwer and Brooks’ cases.

Read more about that issue here

. (Clarion-Ledger, 02/13/08)

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